Academy Blog Series - Battalion 42

Week 2   Apparatus & Equipment Familiarization

Introduction to hose, ladders, self-contained breathing apparatus, ropes and fire engine inventory was the focus during this week of apparatus and equipment familiarization. 

Monday morning, the cadets were introduced to hydrants, water supply and the hoses connecting the fire engine pump to the hydrant.  The use of appliances (metal devices used to assist with water movement), fitting types and standards regarding coupling threads, connections and hose diameter was covered in depth.  Equipment was placed on display to allow cadets the opportunity to touch, examine and work with.  The session ended with a "Fitting Bee" in which cadets were challenged to identify and describe the use of various fittings and appliances chosen at random.

Exposure to ladder operations came the next morning.  The Battalion was divided in half and rotated through two stations, the classroom for lecture and a prop area we call Ladderland for skills. Component recognition, ladder placement rules and command voicing were discussed inside while carrying, balancing and raising techniques were applied outside.  Cadets experienced their first chances to manipulate 14' straight ladders.

The academy possess 4 fire engines, 1 rescue squad and 1 ambulance, all of which have been generously donated by Ventura County, Los Angles City and Oxnard Fire Departments.  Each apparatus contains its own complement of equipment.  As a result, a high priority has been set for inventory control and general preventative maintenance.  Tuesday afternoon, companies were exposed to the apparatus they are assigned to for the semester.  Company 'A', Engine 1; Company 'B', Engine 38; Company 'C', Engine 4; Company 'D', Engine 5.  Cadets worked together taking notes, photographing and quizzing one another on item identification and location.  Company 'A' turned learning fun, coming up with an item retrieval competition between members, with Cadet Powell calling the shots.  

An impromptu salvage cover drill ended this day, after a component malfunction caused a water leak to pour through a classroom ceiling.  Cadets worked together to place containers to catch flowing water and utilized squeegies and mops to remove standing water, a real time, real life water related public assist.  They finished off the job by constructing catchalls out of salvage covers as instructors talked them through the process.  Great job 42!  Chief Warner and the entire Fire Technology staff thanks you.

Hose loads and deployment was covered mid-week.  Cadets were introduced to the methods used to perform two basic hose lays used commonly on fire incidents, the forward lay and reverse lay.  These stations were the cadet's first exposure to fire ground methods and operations.

Wednesday afternoon, the Battalion came together on the apparatus floor to get better acquainted with their self-contained breathing apparatus.  Of all pieces of equipment, this one holds the highest priority as it's use is directly related to firefighter survival.  Confident and competent operation of this apparatus is a must.  Cadets were exposed in increments to the sequential steps to don and operate the components of the SCBA bottle/harness assembly.  As confidence built so did the depth of operation.  Within a short time frame, the Battalion was practicing a full don of equipment while managing their personal alarm device and mask mounted regulators.  They did an incredible job of minimizing bottle air loss during transitions. 

Thursday started with rope orientation.  Rope use throughout this academy is extensive.  Cadets will learn how to build low and high angle rope rescue systems as well as rope rescue using ladder systems.  This training relies a great deal on the cadet's ability to tie knots.  More than a dozen knots are commonly used.  The Battalion assembled at the Knot Rack prop for structured practice as rope cadre members monitored performance throughout the instruction to ensure the cadets were using the correct ties.

The week ended with the research and creation of SCBA Training videos.  Each squad was tasked with documenting the function of assembly components, then narrating a training video to be distributed between squads for classroom viewing.  The exercise was an interactive and entertaining method of instruction.  The group has a few creative actors among them. :)

You are doing a fine job Battalion 42, keep up the good work.

Captain Crudo